Italy face Spain in the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-finals – all you need to know.
Italy take on Spain in the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-finals in London on Wednesday 7 July at 03:00AM.
What’s the story?
In their absolute tiki-taka pomp, Spain swept Italy aside 4-0 in the final of UEFA EURO 2012, but the balance of power has shifted a little since. Italy eliminated La Roja with a 2-0 win in the 2016 round of 16 and come to Wembley having won each of their last 13 international matches, while also being unbeaten in 32 (W27 D5). Their dizzying pace and killer finishing proved too much for a talented Belgium team last time out.
Luis Enrique’s Spain have been enigmatic to say the least; after group stage draws against Sweden and Poland, they beat Slovakia 5-0 to reach the last 16, where they scored five again, though it took extra time to finish off Croatia. A string of missed chances then allowed ten-man Switzerland to take them to penalties in the quarter-finals, but top-class opponents like Italy may yet bring out the best in them.
Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
Out: Spinazzola (achilles)
Spain: Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Eric García, Laporte, Jordi Alba; Koke/Llorente, Busquets, Pedri; Ferran Torres, Morata, Olmo
Out: Sarabia (groin)
Paolo Menicucci, Italy reporter: The sky is the limit for the Azzurri after a wonderful performance against Belgium. Italy had broken several national records at this EURO, but doubts lingered about the conclusions to be drawn given the standard of their opposition. Were the Azzurri ready for the number one team in the FIFA rankings? The win and the performance in Munich eliminated all doubts. Roberto Mancini’s men are up for any kind of battle.
Graham Hunter, Spain reporter: Spain don’t have hidden depths; they are what you see. On form: vivacious, exciting. Off form: a little naive and prone to fluffing chances. They feast on teams sluggish in thought and deed, but Italy are no such thing. And although Luis Enrique objects to being pulled up on playing two left-footed centre-backs, the stats bear out that Spain concede more when that key combination is not Eric García and Aymeric Laporte. La Roja may not be favourites, but expect entertainment.
View from the camps
Roberto Mancini, Italy coach: “It will be difficult, even if Spain are different from Belgium. It will not be the same kind of game compared to the previous one, but it will present many difficulties for sure. Spain have been extraordinary for years, even if now there has been a change and they are a younger side. They have a good coach and very good players.”
Luis Enrique, Spain coach: “I don’t think both of us can dominate, so it’ll be interesting to see who wins this tussle. Apart from having top players, Italy are a real team. They attack and defend as a unit, which is really similar to what we do. They also employ a high press, which it would be hard to imagine an Italian side from the past doing. Now they’re strong in several ways of playing, meaning that the game will be really interesting. Both teams will have their moments.”
Leonardo Bonucci, Italy defender:”Spain have been criticised but Luis Enrique was right to shield their team and unite the group even more. They are very united in their starting XI and the entire squad. When you meet such a mentally strong team, the game is always difficult. But if we show the Italy of the last 30 games, we can certainly achieve the result we want.”
Pedri, Spain midfielder: “Both teams have a very strong midfield and a great deal of quality in that area of the pitch. It’s going to be a very hotly-contested match in midfield. The team that gets the better of it will be the team that makes the fewest mistakes.”
Form guide (most recent first)